Provost Janet Robinson, appointed Feb. 17 by the board of trustees, will serve as interim president during a nationwide search to find a permanent replacement for Mr. Helmer, who plans to leave the Sylvania university at the end of the school year. The provost will take the interim position at the start of the 2012-13 school year.
"I feel very honored and humbled with the opportunity to do this," she said.
Ms. Robinson came to Lourdes in 1992 as a member of the nursing faculty, and has held several administrative positions.
She previously was at the University of Tulsa, the University of Oklahoma, Mercy College of Detroit, and the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.
Ms. Robinson said she hopes to facilitate an effective transition between Mr. Helmer and the next president of the university. She called Mr. Helmer the face and voice of Lourdes and a "best friend," but said she plans to help move the university forward during her tenure. Several new academic programs are planned for next year, and enrollment is expected to grow again.
"Her extensive experience in strategic planning, program management, budgeting, faculty governance, assessment, and accreditation will be an asset to the leadership team at Lourdes," Sister Diana Lynn Eckel, congregational minister for the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, said in a written statement.
Ms. Robinson said she currently has no plans to apply for the permanent president position.
Although she said she feels she has strong academic skills, she has room for improvement in financial areas, such as endowments and fund-raising.
"I'd like to get someone great at that," she said of the president.
Meanwhile, associate provost Keith Schlender is to be interim provost while Ms. Robinson is at the helm of the university. Mr. Schlender, who also is director of Lourdes' Title II program, previously was dean of graduate studies at Lourdes and the former MCO.